Project Management

Lessons Learned from an Oil Refinery’s Turnaround

Shutdowns and turnarounds (TA) are maintenance events that occur in any oil and gas/petrochemical facilities periodically. The frequency of these events commonly ranges between three to five years depending on the regularity and process requirements, and it takes a full two-year cycle to plan for a mega-turnaround.

The primary purposes of such activities are inspection of equipment, health assessment of the plant, disposal and replacement of deteriorating substances, installing new facilities, upgrading or revamping the processes or capacities and so on. This is all done in order to improve safety, health and environment conditions—and increase the reliability and profitability of the refinery.

The complexity and high dependency of turnaround activities mandates it be managed and organized with project management. There are thousands of activities and resources involved, along with millions of man hours, high costs, tough deadlines, a multitude of stakeholders and high risks.

This article will discuss how some major risks were handled and what lessons were learned from an oil refinery’s mega-turnaround in the Middle East region in 2020.

1. Overlaps of turnarounds with other plants
Usually, turnarounds are conducted during the winter and spring seasons as this intense activity is nearly impossible during the summer when the temperatures can reach +…

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"No snowflake in an avalanche ever feels responsible."

- George Burns